Call for Papers – Narrative Inquiry

Special Issue of Action, Criticism, and Theory for Music Education on Narrative Inquiry

The narrative “moment” in music education scholarship came to realisation in February 2006 when the first Narrative Inquiry in Music Education conference was held at Arizona State University. Since then, NIME conference convenings and various publications and presentations grounded in narrative inquiry demonstrate that narrative scholarship has found a place in music education. In a keynote address at the 2006 NIME1 conference, Bowman cautioned that narrative was not“the answer to all questions asked and unasked, the position without positioning, the view from everywhere. To take such stances only makes of narrative inquiry another orthodoxy: a status, I think, quite at odds with its most promising features, and one that absolves scholars of the responsibility (response/ability) that we have every right to demand of them” (p. 14). In an essay born of wrestling with the “gold standard” research demanded by the No Child Left Behind legislation, Kim (2008), a narrative scholar, noted the potential for narrative work be self-indulgent, to romanticize the protagonist, and to be under-theorized, particularly in the explication of narrative means/making and the interpretation of narrative texts. Asking “why narrative, why now,” Littlewood (2003), writing from the perspective of psychology, anthropology, and medicine, cautions against thinking that hearing, gathering, writing, and telling stories is “all we can achieve” (p. 257).

Call for Submissions: After more than a decade of narrative scholarship in music education,  a critical (re)view is warranted—a robust conversation about how narrative scholarship has contributed to the work of the music education community, what constitutes “good” narrative work in music education, how narrative (stories themselves and narrative as scholarship) has been and might be theorized, and what the future of narrative inquiry in music education might hold. This Special Issue of ACT, co-edited by Margaret Barrett and Sandra Stauffer, seeks to broaden and deepen the discourse about narrative scholarship in music education and among those who choose this means of interrogating, as well as among those who might read, critique, and draw upon narrative work. The imperative for this issue of ACT is grounded in MayDay Action Ideal VI, which calls for refining and broadening scholarship in music education, critically examining research practices, and creating “a more expansive and inclusive research agenda—one that produces a richer research base for better-informed and improved thought and practice” (

We invite submissions that critically examine the affordances and constraints of narrative scholarship in music. Questions addressed might include: How or in what ways might narrative inquiry make evident the means and meanings of musical lives of individuals and musical communities of practice? To what ends might narrative inquiry be undertaken with individuals and communities? To what extent or in what ways is narrative lived theory? How do lived experiences represented in narratives become theorized by narrators in their telling and/or by researcher co-conspirators in their scholarship? What ethical imperatives and problems underlie narrative inquiry? How or in what ways does (or could) narrative inquiry engage or connect not only discourses in/of music and education, but also broader social, cultural, and political discourses?

Peer Review Process: All submissions to ACT are subject to a rigorous process of double- blind peer review. Final publication decisions rest with the editor (in light of reviewer recommendations).

Formatting:Please format submissions using the most recent edition of the Chicago Manual of Style’s author-date system throughout. Endnotes are permitted. Audio and video materials are encouraged. Consult a recent issue of ACT or contact the editor for more information if required.

Abstract and Keywords: Submissions must be accompanied by a brief abstract (ca. 100–150 words) and a short list of keywords.

About the Author: Include a 100-150 word biography for each author. Please email manuscripts as attachments to

The deadline for submissions to this special issue of ACT is March 15, 2019.

Bowman, Wayne D. “Why Narrative? Why Now?” Research Studies in Music Education 27, no. 1 (2006): 5-20.

Kim, Jeong-Hee. “A Romance with Narrative Inquiry: Toward an Act of Narrative theorizing.” In Curriculum and Teaching Dialogue, Volume 10, edited by Barbara Slater Stern,251–267. Charlotte, NC: Information Age Publishing, 2008.

Littlewood, Roland. “Why Narrative? Why Now?”Anthropology & Medicine 10, no. 2 (2003): 255-261.